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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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Well, I did this on a few other issues, too, when I was running the editorial page. If I felt that a member of the editorial staff knew a lot more about a given subject than I did, and certainly I felt that Mrs. Huxtable knew a hell of a lot more about city planning and the cityscape than I did, I would accept that editorial writer's judgment over my own. I'm sure that I did this on a few issues. I can't think of any specific ones right now, but I certainly did that, as in this case.

I do remember this one because of the fact that I changed my mind about it. By the time I had left the editorial page, which was the end of '76, early '77, the Westway issue was boiling along, and I became convinced some time in '77 -- not sort of overnight or anything like that, but I became convinced, because I was getting a lot of material on it, more and more, that we had been just wrong. We had judged wrongly on the position we had taken. It was mildly supportive, as I remember, of the whole Westway project. Yet the more I looked into it on my own -- and this was several months later -- the more uneasy I got about it.

And so I finally decided -- of course, I couldn't change editorial policy because I now had nothing more to do with the editorial page, and I was now writing Op-Ed pieces. And so I think sometime in the second half of '77, I think, -- I'm sure it must have been at least six months or so after I left the editorial page -- I ran my first Op-Ed piece attacking Westway. By that time, I was quite convinced that this was a terrible boondoggle and a very bad thing. And after I wrote that one, of course, I got more information and so on and so on, and became more and more completely convinced that this was a crazy and wasteful, expensive and wrong- headed thing.

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